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Kids get a groove on

Anyone who pops into Love Memorial Elementary School’s gym before the start of school will get an eye full of children getting down and boogying.
“Everyone clap your hands!” Johnny Colvard, the school’s physical education teacher yelled into a microphone on Thursday morning.
Hundreds of children obliged, making the gym fill with synchronized claps.
For 15 minutes, the students danced the electric slide, charleston, continental and cha-cha slide.
This dance extravaganza is a reward to students who take advantage of the school’s free breakfast, which is provided through Title I funding.
The only problem is students are sometimes so ready to dance, they don’t want to bother with eating.
“They need to eat because it makes them learn better, and they need to dance because they need to be active,” said Diand Canipe, the school’s principal.
Dancing has been part of the school for nearly 10 years, but it was just last year that the morning dance session became an after breakfast treat.
Students learn steps in their individual gym classes then join together for an attempt at synchronized dancing.
Some students spend the time spinning, falling down and dancing in their own interpretive fashion. This sort of behavior is usually allowed.
“The only trouble is when they’re not dancing,” said Ian Upton, a student teacher at the school. “They’re just running around.”
Students who simply run wild are promptly put on bleacher seats to watch their fellow classmates have fun.
Most children love dancing and are sad when they can’t participate. Others are less passionate.
“I don’t like dancing,” said Paul Timmons, a third-grader. “I just don’t like it.”
As for their instructor, Colvard loves dancing, loves leading students in the moves and can do a killer cha cha slide.
“I love being in front of the crowd,” said Colvard. “They’re wonderful as an audience. Whenever I’m talking, I get their attention.”
The gym teacher moonlights as a DJ playing beach music, top 40 hits and country. He hopes his students learn to love music and dance the way he has.
“Dancing is good for them,” said Colvard. “It’s something they can do for the rest of their lives.”
Colvard notices that at the beginning of a session, some students are too timid too dance. Eventually, however, the music hits them, and they’re ready to go.
“This gets them out of their egg shell,” said Colvard. “They break it open.”
At 8 a.m., after their 15 minutes of dancing, students head out for a day of study.
“I think this is really a good thing for the kids,” said Upton. “It releases some energy before they go to class.”
For some students, the morning is all about the moves, and everything that comes after just doesn’t compare.
“It makes me feel great,” said Jodie Araya, a third-grader. “I like dancing.”by Sarah Grano

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